Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Things

I'm going green--well, sort of. No, I'm not suddenly buying into the hype. I'm not becoming a paranoid freak about the environment, and I'm not overreacting to recent studies. (All the things I've been accused of by a certain brother.) But I am making a commitment to being as green as I can. Here's the reasons why:

1. First and foremost, I'm a Christian. In Genesis, God told Adam that this world was his to care for. I believe that that charge of stewardship extends to us. We have beautiful oceans, lakes, trees, deserts, animals, plants, etc in this world that God gave to us. I don't believe that He intended for us to destroy it with harsh chemicals, litter, and pollution in the name of progress. Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there isn't a time or place for progress. I'm not blaming past generations -- if it weren't for the industrial revolution then I wouldn't be typing on this laptop, sipping a glass of iced tea w/ my precious artificial sweetener, and listening to my kids sing along with Jack's Big Music Show. I'm grateful for the progress our race has made. But I still believe that we have a responsibility to keep the world we have as clean as possible.

2. I have recently read and heard about more and more studies that takes the autism link away from vaccinations (which I never acted on anyway) and ties them to the chemicals in our products. I'm not going to dramatically throw out all my products to buy new more natural ones. You wouldn't want me to suddenly switch to a regular deodorant from an antiperspirant, I promise. But I do want to slowly replace those products (personal and household) that I believe can make a big difference in my house and whose non-natural alternative isn't necessary. And through these replacements, I can reduce the chance of my children and future grandchildren being autistic. But it's not just the autism link. It's the fact that our children shouldn't have those extra chemicals in their bodies. Think about everything that's outside on the pavement -- feces, pesticides, car exhaust fumes, lead, insect poisons -- those all get brought into our homes and once on the carpet, they go into our children's mouths. Who wants that in their children??? Not I!

3. I'm cheap. There, I said it. Call me a penny-pincher or say that I learned a little too well from my mother (Bagga...hehe) or say that I'm getting carried away with getting my grocery bill down (I beg to differ)......I don't care. What I do care about is saving money. If I can create new habits and work with more natural cleaners and other products that are just as effective and less expensive, then I'm all for it! For example, my driveway is full of cracks. Those cracks have more grass in them than the front yard has grass. (How does that work, btw? I water the yard and not the driveway, but yet the driveway's grass grows and the yard's does not.) Chris kept telling me to go buy a bottle of Roundup. I didn't want to. I didn't want to spend the money and didn't want the product to drain into our water system. Recently KT (linked here and on the side) posted a recipe for a weedkiller that is absolutely free since I have all the ingredients in my home already. We're trying it as soon as the remnants of Fay have disappeared.

All that being said, I'm going as green as possible, one step at a time. And I'm going to share what I'm doing with you each step of the way. I considered setting up a third blog, but this is my family blog and this is an important step for my family so this information stays here.

Here are the ideas and decisions that I've collected/made over the last few weeks:

1. I'm moving more towards cloth diapers. I started this because $200-300 a month for disposables was killing my budget. Kairi breaks out easily with all diapers, so I've left her in the Pampers Baby Dry b/c they affect her the least, but hopefully when we can afford better cd's (cloth diapers) then that rash won't come back. But in the meantime, I've been putting Alex in cd's during the day and leaving the disposables for nighttime, nap time, and church. I think that when I have enough of the good cd's for all of it, that we'll make it a permanent switch, but in the meantime, this is a good move for us.
~ Less diapers in the landfills. (Takes 5,000 years for a disposable diaper to decompose.)
~ Fewer chemicals to irritate skin and bother my children.
~ MUCH cheaper! Once you get over the initial investment, no more spending money on diapers! For our family that's a $200-300 break a month!
I've settled on bumGenius diapers because they're also sold at Target and one size fits both my babies.

2. I have a compulsion to disinfect all my dishes and kids' toys on a regular basis. At first, I used a dish soap with a disinfectant, but they all are "orange" and the citric acid leaves rashes on my hands and arms after extended use. So I started buying Palmolive's Green Apple and adding a touch of bleach. I discontinued the bleach b/c it is so harsh and because even Satin Hands could not combat my washing dishes 4-7 times a day in bleach after about 2 weeks. Then I remembered that I had some Lysol 3-in-1 disinfectant. I started adding a capful of that to my dish water. But again, the thought of all those chemicals started to bother me. So today while on the phone with my mother-in-law I looked up a green disinfectant. I'm going to have to buy some ingredients for this, but nothing that I would mind having in my house as it is.

Easy Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe

2 Cups of apple cider or white vinegar

4 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers

4 Tbsp. dried rosemary

4 Tbsp. dried thyme

4 Tbsp. dried sage

4 Tbsp. dried peppermint

Combine all the ingredients and seal tightly in a glass jar. Place the jar in a warm, dark cupboard for four weeks, shaking occasionally.
How to Use Four Thieves Vinegar

This mixture can be strained, cut with equal parts water, and decanted into a spray bottle. It is particularly good for use as a topical disinfectant around pet feeding areas, countertops, wood laminate floors, outdoor seating areas, and washable surfaces near where children play. Special note: If you are using herbs fresh from your garden, triple the amount specified in the recipe.

3. And here's a 2 in 1. Chris and I have decided to cut the plants against one of our fences waaaaaaaaay back. Then we're going to dig up a good portion of the yard next to that fence and section it off with lattice panels. We're going to plant a garden! We'll grow winterish vegetables this fall, but remembering that we live in Florida, I bet we can have some warm weather plants as well. We're also going to build a bin in the corner of the garden to use as a compost pile. I feel guilty every time I through away something that could easily decompose and make great soil -- call it brainwashing by my mother if you wish, but I can't spend the money on potting soil in good conscious when I know that I have plenty of supplies to make my own in my own refrigerator.
And as a sidenote, since our backyard is small and therefore our garden will be as well, we're going to use one of the front flowerbeds as a place for tomatoes, onions, garlic, and possibly peppers.

We're also making other changes, but I have written more than enough this time around and my children might kill each other if I don't go pry the girl off the boy. :)


Mama Kalila said...

Oh no - you too! We headed that way on accident... kinda shook our heads when we realized it, but we're going with it. Our main reason is money, but I like the other benifits too. One of my cousins is too, but part of hers is the hype.. She saw Inconvienent Truth & is convinced it's right - as I can pull up just as many studies saying we're going into an ice age too... both are theories not facts lol... but that's a tangent of my own.

We've already started phasing out our old cleaners... (I'm just using up what was left & then no more) We're not buying the green ones though becuase I've heard that for one they aren't completely green or safe anyway. We're using baking soda & vinegar for almost everything... peroxide for a few others.. but I liked that recipe you put up. I've heard a lot of good things about tea tree oil too, but is so expensive!

I'm not making laundry detergent - at least not anytime soon... but we're getting the green kind (or got.. we bought in bulk lol) & are going to switch to green dish soap too. We found SunHarvest here has great prices & almost all the stuff in there is green & organic.

I'm so stinking paranoid about poisons around my baby though... To the point of I won't spray for ants even... I fought them for months trying to find a good way to kill them (it ended up being vinegar of course lol).

I've heard some of the autism pestiside links before too... Is pretty scary when ya think about it. One thing about the vacc's (we're giving them too... we figure it's better to be safe) that I've heard is not to give tylanol afterwards.. that combination can also lead to autism. Scary since that's what is recommended, at least at our pedi...

We've also gone to the cloth shopping bags (doesn't save money but saves clutter around our place... much to small to deal w/ that.. plus SA may be banning plastic ones soon anyway), organic on foods that have higher pesticide levels or when we can afford it (hello cupons lol), got a diva cup for me & of course the diapers... We did decide that for our boys we're getting 7th Gen diapers for the first two weeks... They may be more expensive but I figure it's not a long time & after being cut on they prob don't need chemicals right there on top of it lol. (or as many) We could do liners in the cloth, but Jas thinks it'll be easier this way... we'll see... I want to garden too, but we have to have a house first. Ther's a few things I could do in pots, but Jas doesn't want to until we're gone from here... Same w/ line drying, need a house first - but so looking forward to being able to do that!

Anyways, good luck! & I look forward to hearing more about yalls green journey... Mine's more on the secondary blog obviously... I kinda wish I hadn't seperated them (but mostly cause I'd liek to have a private one away from my family instead lol) but oh well.

Oh, I heard someone say that they (this wouldn't work for you quite) used prefolds (hte cheap gerber ones) at first & the money they would have spent in a month they bought better cd's with... did that every month until they had a good stash. I hadn't thought of that, but such a good idea. We're doing one new BG a month (similar idea I suppose) until we have more of those too. I've managed the past two days BG only but had to wash in between lol.

Sorry, didn't mean to run away w/ your comment section!

Steph said...

I hear you on the "it's called a theory for a REASON". ;)

Well, I'll confess that I'm not even considering switching laundry detergents. :( I love my Arm'n'Hammer and will stick with it. Although, I don't use fabric softener -- never have, never will.

We also use baking soda and vinegar for most of our cleaning. I need a good glass cleaner recipe, though. My kitchen/dining room table has two large glass pieces in it and it looks terrible.

We currently don't have a working dishwasher, so I have to do all our dishes by hand. I don't worry as much about the dishes being disinfected when I run them in the dishwasher b/c I know that the heat sanitizes them. But since we don't have that option, I had to find something to do. As soon as I'm out of what I already have of the Lysol, I'm switching to that formula. And I'm looking into making my own dish soap. We'll see how that goes though. This reminds me, I promised my mil that I'd find a recipe for the dishwasher! I guess that that will be todays post. :)

I've also heard a lot about tea tree oil, but agree that it's too expensive for my budget! Most of the cleaning "recipes" that I've heard involve essential oils such as lavender.

I've not heard the tylenol link at all. But I'll send you on myspace a link to a letter that a friend of my posted about a conference she went to on autism.

Mama Kalila said...

We use Arm & Hammer too lol... but the green one (essentials I think) & since we now have to order it online anyway we're getting the one w/out dyes or fragrences now too. For "softening" I put vinegar in... I don't do it on the diapers becuase you can't w/ BG's (although sometimes I take them out & do it w/ the prefolds but that's more for sanitizing than softening).

There's not many dishwasher recipes out there... lots of people talk about it, but none work well supposedly. Most I've seen use borax... which is natural but still very poisonous. I'm afraid I'd spill it & miss some!

Our table has a glass top too, so if you find a good one that works I'd be really interested in that too because the baking soda/vinegar thing works on it, but loads of streaks...

I haven't tried any recipes w/ the oils in them because they are all expensive lol. I keep an eye out for sales, but barring that just isn't gonna happen. I've seen some w/ good old lemon juice or lemons though too.